List of Native American Tribes by Region

The Native American tribes in North America are usually categorized by region. The region in which each tribe lived had a great effect on the lifestyle and other aspects of that tribe. In all, the tribes are usually divided up into the following areas by region.

Arctic Indians

The Arctic Indians refer to the Native American tribes who have traditionally lived in the harsh and cold climate towards the north. These tribes include the Inuit, Aleut and Yupik peoples.

They are collectively termed as ‘Eskimos’. The Arctic Indians lived in a harsh climate with long and bitterly cold winters.

They had a nomadic lifestyle and hunted seals, polar bears and other animals to sustain themselves. Some of them lived a more settled life and had houses shaped like small domes.

Subarctic Indians

Subarctic Indians are the Native Americans who have traditionally lived close to the arctic region. They occupied an area which mostly comprised of tundra, forests of pines as well as swampy areas.

Notable subarctic Native American tribes include the Cree, Naskapi and Ojibwa. Living in the subarctic region was hard, so each tribe had a small population.

They relied heavily on caribou and deer for meat. Their houses were often shaped like small tents which could be easily moved around. In excessively cold temperatures, they would seek refuge in dugouts underground.

Northeast Indian Tribes

The Northeast Indians lived near the coastal areas and adjacent inlands in the northeast. Since the European settlers first arrived at the northeast, the Northeast Indians were among the first to encounter them.

Notable Native American tribes in the Northeast included Delaware, Fox, Huron, Illinois, Iroquois, Mahican, Massachuset, Miami, Mohigan, Nipissing, Ottawa and Shawnee.

Northeast Indians are often categorized as Iroquoian and Algonquian Indians, depending on the language they speak. The Iroquoian Indians were particularly warlike.

They fought other tribes as well as the European settlers when they started arriving. Eventually, all the Northeast Indian tribes were pushed westwards with the expansion of the American colonies.

Southeast Indian Tribes

The Southeast Indian tribes occupied the area along the south of the eastern coast. This area was very fertile, so the tribes living in this area usually practiced agriculture.

They grew a number of crops such as tobacco, maize and beans. Notable Native American tribes in the southeast included the Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee. Together, these were also known as the Five Civilized Tribes.

By 19th century, white settlers from US states wanted to take over the lands in the southeast. This eventually led to the displacement of the southeast Indian tribes from the region.

Great Plains Indian Tribes

The Great Plains refers to a large stretch of area that is situated between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River. The area was historically home to a very large population of bison and buffalo.

These animals roamed the Great Plains area in large herds. Notable Native American tribes living in the area included Crow, Dakota, Comanche, Blackfoot, Lakota, Pawnee, Omaha and Missouri.

When white settlers started arriving in the Great Plains, they also started hunting the buffaloes in large numbers. This soon depleted the once-large population of buffaloes.

The Native American tribes no longer had animals to hunt and sustain themselves. They fought the white settlers and the U.S. forces but were ultimately forced to leave their ancestral homelands.

Great Basin Indian Tribes

The Great Basin area is a vast area that is contained within the Columbia Plateau, Rocky Mountain, Colorado Plateau and Sierra Nevada mountains.

Shaped like a basin, this area was home to a number of Native American tribes including Shoshone, Bannock, Washo and Ute. The tribes in the Great Basin initially relied on foraging food from the land.

They later learned horse riding and became hunters. In the 19th century, American explorers found deposits of gold and silver in the Great Basin area. Before soon, large number of white settlers started arriving and the Native Americans were forced to relocate.

Plateau Indian Tribes

Plateau Indians lived in the modern-day states of Montana, Idaho as well as parts of Washington and Oregon. The Plateau tribes are usually categorized as northern and southern.

They traditionally hunted fish in rivers and streams. When white settlers arrived in America, the Plateau Indians adopted the horse and focused more on hunting to sustain themselves.

Notable Plateau Indian tribes included Nez Perce, Salish, Yakama, Walla Walla and Klamath.

Southwest Native American Tribes

Southwest tribes lived in the present-day states of New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Colorado. They lived under Spanish rule, then came under Mexican rule and finally became a part of USA in the mid 19th century.

Some southwest tribes, such as the Pueblo Indians, lived in permanent settlements and practiced agriculture. Others, such as the warlike Apache and the Navajo, relied more on hunting and raiding.

Once the southwest became a part of USA, the Native American tribes soon found themselves confronted by the U.S. armies. They put up a fight for sometime before being forced to relocate to government settlements.


The California region was home to a large and diverse variety of Native American tribes. These tribes mainly practiced hunting to sustain themselves.

Notable California tribes included Chumash, Karuk, Hupa, Miwok, and Mohave. Spanish explorers arrived in the region as early as 16th century.

By the 17th century, a large portion of the population had died of European diseases. Many of the others were forced into slavery and bonded labor by the Spanish.

Northwest Coast Indians

Northwest Coast Indians lived along the northern coast of the Pacific Ocean. The Indian tribes in this region were relatively affluent and well-established.

They hunted sea otters, seals, fish and other sea animals. They also had access to a lot of natural resources because the region had a mild climate.

Notable tribes of the Northwest Coast included Tlingit, Haida, Chinook and Tillamook.

The Native Americans in this region lived in large villages. Each village had a chief as well as several classes, depending on the wealth and ascendancy. The arrival of Europeans in the Americas brought several diseases to the Northwest Coast, killing off a large population.